Cruiserweight Adamek aspires to conquer the heavyweights

Updated: October 24, 2009, 5:37 PM ET

Adamek testing the heavyweight waters

Cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek couldn't get Bernard Hopkins into the ring, so he's taking the leap that many cruiserweights have taken.

He's going to test the waters at heavyweight by facing Polish countryman Andrew Golota on Saturday in a 15,000-seat arena in Lodz, Poland, about 85 miles from Warsaw.

Although the 41-year-old Golota has long worn out his welcome in most places, in their country the bout is a big deal, referred to as the "Polish Fight of the Century." That's even though Golota has always disappointed in his biggest fights, going 0-3-1 in heavyweight title shots, quitting against Mike Tyson and twice getting disqualified against Riddick Bowe.

How big is Adamek-Golota in Poland?

Some stats on Saturday's fight dubbed the "Polish Fight of the Century":

  • • It will be the biggest audience ever (15,000-plus) to watch an event in Poland's biggest arena, Arena Lodz in Lodz.
  • • Golota's 1998 fight with Tim Witherspoon generated Poland's largest TV audience ever, which exceeded a 2005 visit by Pop John Paul II. Polsat expects this fight to break the record.
  • • Polsat predicted that 1 in every 4 Poles will watch the fight with viewership expected to exceed 10 million in a nation with a population of approximately 40 million.
  • • The card will be a five-hour live televised program, which will begin on cable and switch to terrestrial TV on Polsat, Poland's biggest network. The only other time that has been done was when Poland played in the World Cup.
  • • Polsat will use 23 HD cameras to cover the fight.

"Golota and Adamek are fighting for something bigger than a world championship or money. They're fighting for country," said Don King, who promotes Golota and used to promote Adamek. "In Poland, this fight will compare to our Super Bowl or the World Cup in terms of demand and attention."

Although Adamek is moving up in weight for the fight, he isn't necessarily leaving the cruiserweight division for good. He did vacate his alphabet title this week when, according Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, the IBF refused to grant him an exception in order to face Golota. However, Adamek still holds the Ring magazine title, which represents his status as the lineal champion, and he has not closed the door on returning to the 200-pound division after the Golota fight, win or lose.

"Nobody can take away my Ring belt without beating me in the ring and that will not happen," Adamek said. "I'm open to [fighting the best] cruiserweights in the world if this is what television [networks] and the fans want me to do. Can you be the best cruiserweight in the world and try to be best heavyweight? Why not?"

Said Duva: "He holds something very valuable and he is not going to give it away. He doesn't have to make any decisions right now. Tomasz is very comfortable at both weights. It's a win-win situation. We want to keep all our options open."

Tomasz Adamek

Al Bello/Getty Images

Tomasz Adamek had to part ways with a belt in order to fight Andrew Golota at heavyweight.

Adamek's lone defeat came via decision when he lost his light heavyweight belt to Chad Dawson in 2007. Since then, Adamek has campaigned as a cruiserweight, winning seven fights in a row. He also claimed the world title with a stirring point victory against Steve Cunningham in a 2008 fight of the year candidate and has defended the title twice.

Cunningham is Adamek's mandatory challenger, and Duva and Adamek have expressed interest in the rematch. However, fights with Hopkins or Golota were far more lucrative. When the bout with Hopkins couldn't be finalized, they opted for Golota. Cunningham, meanwhile, has been ordered to face Matt Godfrey for the vacant alphabet belt.

Adamek said he has no concerns with putting on the additional weight to fight Golota.

"Right now I weigh 215," said Adamek, 32, who makes his home in New Jersey now. "That is a very comfortable weight for me, very natural. I feel very good, in great shape. I can fight either cruiserweight or heavyweight. My natural weight is 215, so if more heavyweight fights can be made that would be good. We do not see any good cruiserweight proposals being made.

"Maybe next year at the same time I can have a fight with the Klitschkos. It is my dream to be a champion in this category. In the heavyweight division whoever is smarter and faster can win. I am not afraid of anybody. I always believed that [the] world belongs to those not afraid of taking a risk. I'm ready to take my chances, I'm prepared mentally and physically to be a great heavyweight."

Golota, who weighed in Friday at a career heavy 256 pounds to Adamek's 214.2 pounds, said Adamek is in for a rude awakening.

"If somebody asks to me to dance, I never say no, and this was Adamek's idea -- not mine," Golota said. "So I said, 'Why not?' He has never fought anybody from the heavyweight division, and has no idea how hard we can hit."

Sam Colonna, Golota's trainer, has worked fights as an assistant in Adamek's corner, and knows how tough he is.

"[Golota] has to be busy because Adamek is one of the toughest fighters I ever saw in my life," Colonna said. "I will never forget the smell of blood when Adamek was fighting Paul Briggs the first time [to win a vacant light heavyweight title in 2005]. He fought 12 rounds with the broken nose, an injury he sustained two weeks before fight. We went through four towels just to get the blood from his face between the rounds. But Andrew can be the same way. He fought Mike Mollo with one eye, another one completely closed and begging doctors to not stop the fight."

Adamek (38-1, 26 KOs) and Golota (41-7-1, 33 KOs), idle since retiring after the first round with a left biceps injury against Ray Austin in November 2008, are friendly and have boxed on the same card together before. But this is business.

"Golota is my friend, but you know Andrew is a little bit older. I am younger," Adamek said. "Maybe Andrew has one or two fights more and that's it. Maybe it's my turn next, but after me there will be someone younger. That's the way it goes. "

Martinez for Williams?

FightWireImages.com

Able-bodied: Sergio Martinez is willing and more than ready to fight Paul Williams.

Although the Dec. 5 Kelly Pavlik-Paul Williams middleweight championship fight is down the tubes, called off Wednesday because of Pavlik's ongoing left hand problem, Williams will still fight on that date and headline an HBO "World Championship Boxing" card, according to HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg.

However, promoter Dan Goossen must find a new opponent for Williams, as well as a new venue since Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., is not interested; Pavlik was the big draw there. The most likely opponent is junior middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez, who was being lined up to fight in an untelevised HBO undercard fight on either Dec. 5 or 12 as an insurance policy in case Pavlik's hand injury forced him out of the fight, which it did.

"We're ready, willing and able to fight Williams and there is nobody in the world who will give him a more difficult fight at 154 pounds than Sergio," Lou DiBella, Martinez's promoter, said. "These are the two best lefties in the division, the two best guys in the division. I don't think it's an easy fight for Williams or for Sergio. I've had preliminary discussions with Goossen. I knew the Williams people and HBO wanted us on one of those undercards in December in case of this eventuality with Pavlik. Sergio was getting ready to fight a southpaw just in case. We had always been kept in mind as the insurance policy. Now they need someone and we're deal makers not deal breakers but if they think Martinez is coming for ham sandwich, they're wrong. Come with a proper offer and we'll make the fight in two seconds."

Goossen is also talking to Universum, which promotes titleholder Sergei Dzindziruk. Williams holds the interim version of the title and is the mandatory challenger.

"Goossen said, 'I can always make Williams with Dzindziruk,'" DiBella said. "I think it was Goossen's way of badly starting negotiations for a Martinez fight."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.


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